The Red Dress Club: Pride
Looking up, I saw him. At the end of a very long path. Waiting for me…
Chalk it up to a premature mid-life crisis. What other explanation could there be? After all, I am not from the athletes. I had never run a mile in my entire life. Not even in high school! I was the kid who was hiding the bushes, waiting for the rest of gym class to head back into the locker room. Yet there I was, sitting in an information session for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team-in-Training program. And signing on the dotted line, committing to train for and complete the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.
They made it seem so simple. Their experienced team of coaches and devoted alumni would expertly guide me through marathon training as well as assist me with the fundraising. “Fundraising?” you ask. To participate in the program, I had to commit to raising just over $3,000. I like round numbers. And by round numbers, I mean round Jewish numbers. Meaning multiples of eighteen. So I set my goal at $3,600. That kind of fundraising was daunting to most of the folks in the same way that running was to me.
The first day of training arrived. I awakened at an un-Godly hour, very nervous. Everything I wore that first day was new — my shoes, shorts, support bra, training “singlet” (fancy name for a running shirt), etc. I had a filling, but not too filling, breakfast and stashed some post-run snacks in the car.
In the movie version, I kept up with the pack, displaying a perfect stride.
In reality, I was the slowest one, resembling a sloth gasping for air.
My shins hurt…my back hurt…even my fat hurt.
I could not even manage to run the entire 2 miles.
As an aside, when I say that I was the slowest runner…I am not being hyperbolic. I ran with the slowest group. We named ourselves “The Tortoises,” and it is safe to say that I was the slowest tortoise. However, my mentor Ellen often reminded me that as long as I wasn’t planning on winning the damn race, it didn’t matter how long it would take me to finish.
The amazing thing is that within three weeks, this non-runner went from being able to run less than a mile without stopping to running 5 miles. You read that right. I ran 5 miles. Take THAT — all you naysayers. Yes, there were naysayers. The folks who said they were impressed while harbouring the strong feeling that I’d never make it. I saw it in their eyes. I heard it in their voices.
Which was when MamaBear, z”l, said, “anyone who knows you would believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Pretty soon, I was adding two miles onto the run each week. Challenging, to be sure. And I wanted to give up. Every time. I hated running. But I’d sent out schnorr letters to over one hundred fifty people, raised over $5,000, and committed to finishing the race. So back out there I went.
Race Weekend arrived. I flew up to SFO with the team. PC, MomGiraffe, JockBro, SIL, and Ace arrived the following day, complete with Tshirts and signs. They popped up at various points along the route, which was very encouraging. Especially after Mile 14. That was when I pulled my IT band. Apparently, a common injury among runners who suddenly increase their activity. Or, as in my case, an predictable injury for this non-runner who suddenly attempted 26.2 miles.
And so I limped. For 12 miles. At which point, I saw him, waiting for me at the finish line. My Team Tortoise teammates returned to the course to
run bring me in. 0.2 miles. The longest distance of the entire race. His eyes met mine; I limped towards him.
A very handsome man in a tuxedo, holding a silver tray, piled high with Tiffany Blue boxes.
8 hours, 25 minutes, 16 seconds.
The finisher’s medal was mine.
Remembe(RED) is a memoir meme. This week, we were asked to tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in my life of which I am proud. In 700 words or fewer. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed!
PS – I haven’t run a single step since the day I crossed the finish line.